At this point in my marathon training I am finding it harder to decipher what is actual pain and what is my mind thinking I am in pain. With now less than five weeks to go to the London Marathon I know that I am not alone in saying that everything seems to hurt all the time.
Whether it is a dull muscle ache, body fatigue or heavy legs – it just does not seem to let up no matter what I do to try to alleviate the feeling. When I am dressed and ready for a run, about to take my first step I am constantly asking myself is this fatigue I am feeling or am I simply not able to run today?
Knowing the difference between the two has become a blur in the need to tick off all the training sessions during the final weeks of training. It is a constant battle with mind and body and also understanding when it is more productive to have an additional rest day.
This was extremely evident to me after the North London Half Marathon. I am not sure why this race got to me so much. I have been training consistently on hills in my local area, so I should have had the stamina and endurance to get through. However, in the days following I suffered more than I ever have post race. I didn’t do anything differently, I didn’t change anything in my diet – I simply just hurt. Monday through to Thursday I had a constant battle with myself to determine whether it was superficial or if I could simply run through the pain I was feeling.
Tuesday was the first attempt to get back running and it failed immediately. I got out of my car, stood in the car park and simply said “I am not doing this today”. I know this was probably more my mind winning this crazy marathon battle. But on this day I simply did not care, I got back in my car and went home to the comfort of my pajamas.
The following day, Wednesday, my mind was in a better state but my legs certainly were not. But I simply pushed through anyway. And it hurt. The tightness in my quads meant that I spent the first four miles shuffling. But I kept pushing through, regardless of what I may have looked like, and I completed an eight mile run before heading off to a Yoga class to stretch out.
Saturday saw me more determined to head out for my 18 mile run (one I had previously failed to complete). At 8am I was out the door, leaving my car at home and completing a large loop of my local area back home again. The first eight-ten miles were fine, then I felt hungry. Taking on energy jellies I carried on through to thirteen miles, fourteen miles, I kept going – at times walking out the aches. Fifteen miles hit and I wanted to scream – the pain was not just my body, but my mind too. My mind hurt from trying to convince myself that I can keep going. I hit a new level of fatigue I had never felt before but still continued on for the last three hellish miles, barely able to get the energy to lift my legs. After I mis plotted my Strava map, I spent the last half a mile running in circles around my Neighbour’s houses to make the run up to 18 miles – there was no way that I was going to go through the last 3-4 hours without hitting the distance exactly. Then I fell into the house, crawling up the stairs to the shower. Stopping hurt just as much as keeping going, so I can see why the experts say keep moving when you finish. If you don’t you will end up like me crawling round the house.
That said – the next morning though considerably tired, I jumped out of bed with no aches and pains at all. So I ran further than I had done the previous week, with possibly the same amount of hills, yet nothing ached!
There are times during this training I simply don’t understand anything. I don’t understand how my 18 mile run caused me no post run fatigue and aches the day after, but the North London Half Marathon left me in pieces. I don’t understand how sometimes you can run through the pain to complete a long run but then the next day running a mile is simply just impossible.
It just doesn’t make sense. All I can do is keep running. Keep attempting to run through the pain in the hope that one day I will make sense of it all.
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Great work Gemma. And sometimes there’s no telling how runs are going to go nor how the following few days are going to be. You’re doing brilliantly – well done!
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